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Highlights of the Florida Writers Association annual conference

Writing conversations flowed, attendees exchanged business cards and dreams, and tips on everything from point of view to editing to writing stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul swirled around the Florida Writers Association’s eleventh annual conference this weekend.

More than six hundred writers of all levels and genres gathered at the Lake Mary Marriott to meet other writers, learn from experts, and possibly get a book deal after pitching their stories to agents and publishers at the “Magic of the Pen” conference.

Here are tips I picked up at the conference and a few highlights I thought I’d share:

Cristina Kessler, author of cross-cultural books for young people, used the following quote by James Thurber when talking about writer’s block: “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” How true!

Madeleine Kuderick, creative nonfiction author whose stories are widely anthologized in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Cup of Comfort and Hallmark gift books, encouraged writers to search their own backyards for stories that could be submitted to compilations. When looking for material, she stressed the importance of paying attention to what people say, looking for random acts of kindness and thinking about extraordinary firsts you experienced in your life.

Madeleine Kuderick also shared how to use a simple object to tell a much larger story and showed the following video of Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, reciting his poem titled “The Lanyard.” In introducing his poem, Collins talked about using “a simple object as a point of entry.”

Congratulations to all those who won Royal Palm Literary Awards on Saturday night, especially my good friend Bruce H. Kubec who received a first place award in the Mystery – Published category for his book, The Gift. Thanks so much for allowing me to sit at such a fun table of fabulous writers who brought home five RPLA awards.

In her talk on Four Levels of Showing vs. Telling, Chris Roerden, longtime author and editor, said one time to tell rather than show is “when an emotion is not involved.” Interesting.

Next year’s conference has already been scheduled for October 18th – 20th. Mark your calendars and start working on stories and/or a book to in the Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. Who knows? We may be cheering for you as you walk across the stage to receive your award.


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